Amy Warner grew up in the Erskine, Scotland, Church of the Nazarene, but as a teenager she felt like there weren’t too many other girls in the church and it would have been easy to wander away. In a church with few female leaders, it would have been understandable for then youth pastor Alan Baird to feel like maybe there wasn’t much he could do.
“There really weren’t female mentors in the church, and that probably would have been a block for a lot of girls who might have been interested in serving, without female leaders to show them how to lead as a female,” Warner said.
With her pastor’s encouragement, Warner, then 17, began serving as a youth intern at her church.
“(Alan) taught me everything he knew,” she said.
She wasn’t interested in a ministry career at first, but that relationship stayed with her.
“As I left school and thought about what I wanted to do in my life, I realised the investment he had in me and everything he helped me to understand," Warner said. "I wanted to do that for people.”
Amy wanted to be a mentor for her friends and others because she knew firsthand the value of having an older person who cared for her beyond her family.
She realised her call into leadership didn’t come in isolation; the church had to accept and encourage her while she searched for her calling.
“If I hadn’t been a part of this local church, I wouldn’t have entered ministry, and I don’t even know if I would still be a Christian," Warner said. "Alan and Pastor Derrick really believed in me and helped me to figure out my place in the story of God. From there, the church was really willing to be creative in thinking about what my role could look like.”
Becoming the youth pastor at Erskine Church of the Nazarene means Warner is also stepping into the church’s role in the community. In the local secondary school, she is continuing work started by Baird, and she has seen that partnership flourish.
“Alan’s work (in the high school) for all those years has made it possible for me to go into the school and speak in classrooms about Jesus,” Warner said.
Having spent six years working in youth ministry at the age of just 23, Warner says that she has learned in her ministry that “God’s presence is a very long-term thing.”
Recently, her passion for justice has moved her to start looking at ways the church can be a force for good in the wider world.
“I believe that Amy has a compelling passion for social justice," said Diego Lopez, youth coordinator for the Eurasia Region. "(She) has been able to inspire many in NYI (Nazarene Youth International) and in the wider church … to think deeper about our actions, and how we contribute into a more fair world.”
Warner is living that out through her work on her district, as well as her work for justthreads.org. Just Threads is a clothing company with a three-fold approach to their support of social justice efforts: selling only fair trade products, using design to promote awareness, and sharing the profits with existing charities.
“I want to connect people to use their gifts for justice,” she said.